There is a defensive overhaul starting in Portland.
Kosuke Kimura has already been traded and the club has now thinned the ranks even more by trading centre back Eric Brunner to MLS Cup Runners up Houston and waiving options on former USL Timber Steve Purdy and Lovell Palmer.
“Eric is a great person and quality player, and these types of decisions are never easy,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager in a club release.
“We very much appreciate his service to the club over the past two seasons, both on and off the field. The opportunity in Houston for Eric is one that he is excited about. He is well-liked and will be missed.”
Brunner was a stand out for Portland in the early half of the 2012 season until injury curtailed his, and arguably the Timbers’, season.
Before his injury, the club conceded around the 1.0 goals per game mark. During his absence, that figure ballooned. His departure therefore comes as a surprise as he had just recovered his fitness and he is joining a club where Bobby Boswell and Jermaine Taylor have had excellent seasons in his position.
“I’d like to thank Merritt Paulson, Gavin Wilkinson and the entire Timbers organization for allowing me to be a part of the start of the MLS franchise; it’s been an honor,” added Brunner.
“I am fortunate to have made life-long friendships and I’d like to thank the fans for their commitment and support. It has been a pleasure playing for you. I am excited for my new endeavors in Houston and appreciate all that’s been done.”
The declining of options on Steve Purdy marks another step towards the end of an era. Purdy was a holdover from the USL club but had recently received more attention for his performances for El Salvador than for Portland. Lovel Palmer will not be missed by most Timbers fans due to a series of unimpressive performances, which had led to a certain amount of scapegoating among the fanbase.
Palmer, 28, played in 19 regular-season games (15 starts) for the Timbers during the 2012 campaign. The Jamaican international first joined the club July 21, 2011, in a trade with the Houston Dynamo, and appeared in 34 games, recording one assist, during his time in Portland.
Purdy, 27, logged 188 minutes in three appearances for Portland in 2012. A member of the El Salvador National Team, Purdy made 11 total appearances with the Timbers over two MLS seasons. He first joined the Timbers in 2010, when the club competed as a second-division side.
Given Purdy’s history with both the club and USL head coach and now General Manager Gavin Wilkinson, the quote attached to the club release was a little terse:
“We’d like to thank both Lovel and Steve for their contributions to the club over the last two seasons and wish them well in the future,” Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson was quoted as saying.
Purdy surely deserved a little better than to have Wilkinson’s gratitude lumped in with another player, especially one who had made so little impact at the club.
Meanwhile, Scottish full back Steven Smith has tweeted out his gratitude to Timbers fans on his departure after he too fell foul of the defensive clearance.
“Would like to thank timbers fans for their support which is by far the best in MLS met some great people in a great city good luck.”
The club has also acquired veteran defender Michael Harrington from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for allocation money.